Can Crocodiles Digest Bones?

By Naomi Millburn

Anup Shah/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Crocodiles are far from being finicky about their food. The carnivorous reptiles actually take the concept of having broad palates to a whole new level. If they can seize prey, they'll likely eat it -- and literally every part of the body, too. Ignored leftovers aren't a common occurrence in the crocodile universe.

Acidic Tummies

Crocodiles' stomachs are extremely acidic. No other vertebrates' stomachs can measure up in the acidity department, as crocodiles beat them all. This considerable acidity enables crocodiles to digest a lot of things that don't seem too digestible, including bones. If an animal has a plastron, scales, lots of hair or perhaps even hooves, it's no problem at all for a ravenous croc looking to fill up his belly.

Digestion Process

Not only are crocodiles' stomachs lucky enough to have tough enzymes that are capable of handling bone digestion, they're also divided up into two distinct sections. The initial section is a muscular pocket that accommodates rocks that crocodiles intentionally take in. These rocks, with the cooperation of the stirring in their bellies, handle the deconstruction of crocodiles' prey. They are beneficial for helping crocs crush up anything hard or rough in texture. "Gizzard stones" are a common name for them. When crocodiles swallow the bones of their prey, they tend to linger in this stomach area for a few days at a time. Once the bones are thoroughly crushed, they transfer over to the next section of the stomach to finish up the digestion process. This exhaustive digestive procedure enables crocs to not squander anything they eat, whether bones or horns.

Infrequent Diners

Many animals eat on a daily basis, like human beings, but not crocodiles. Since their bodies are so skilled at digesting things down to the nitty gritty, they don't need to eat so frequently. Crocodiles typically tuck in for meals roughly once per week. In tough times of scant sustenance, mature specimens can usually get by for at least 12 months without eating anything. This usually only happens after they've enjoyed a big portion of food. If what they ate was insubstantial, they usually resume eating again shortly. When they're not eating for extended durations, they gain energy via their fat reserves.

Bones of Many Animals

Since crocodiles have such a wide assortment of prey animals they're willing to eat, they routinely consume the bones -- and other elements -- of many diverse types of creatures. Some of the prey they often capture include zebras, snails, water buffalo, turtles, monkeys, fish, wildebeests, frogs, waterbirds, insects and crabs. Bigger varieties of crocodiles generally consume prey animals of larger sizes. Some of them even dine on people who accidentally got too close to them. This is why it's vital to never approach crocodiles out in nature, or to even go into their general direction. When crocodiles are ready to eat, they typically stay under the radar in the water. Once their prey targets are nearer, they move over to them and grab them with their mighty jaws. Crocodiles generally dine in water, rather than on land.

Photo Credits

  • Anup Shah/Digital Vision/Getty Images